Wertbestaendige Intro.

Wertbestaendige notgeld……………notes of ‘fixed’ value

Wertbestaendige notgeld are those issues which have a ‘fixed’ value. Their face value is either in dollars US or ‘gold’ mark, or they are less commonly, for an actual ‘commodity’. Denominations, for these notes all issued in late 1923, were based on the ‘4.2 mark to the dollar’ valuation of 1914. Despite the name ‘goldmark/goldpfennig’, these issues were NOT actually backed by gold…it was all a bit of a sham!

Wertbestaendige notgeld are all dated at the end of 1923 and it appears that about 700 places issued them. Those with money values (about 85% of the issues) are either in US dollars and/or Goldmarks or Goldpfennigs. The note above is for a value of 6 goldmarks and was issued by ‘Hamburgische Frauenhilfe’. It is catalogued as LSK148, using the new 2002 Hamburg paper money issues catalogue, by Lindman, Stolzenberg & Kirstein.

The 3 notes below, issued in Hoechstadt a.d.Donau, are a beautiful and very colourful complete set. They go to show that this notgeld category is super for the notgeld collector. They have a total catalogue value of 120 euros (30+40+50 euros, respectively for the 3 different face values). No variants are known for these pieces.


The following scan shows 2 scarce wertbestaendige pieces of notgeld issued in Luebben with fairly high face values of 8.40 goldmarks and 21 goldmark. They catalogue under ‘L037’ in Kai Lindman’s new ‘Das wertbestaendige Notgeld von 1923/24’ catalogue, published in 2008. They have a catalogue value of either 150 or 200 euros in used condition!

The following scan shows another scarce/rare piece, this time issued in Hoechst a. Main. The piece is dated ‘6 November 1923 and has a face value of 5Goldmark. It catalogues as ‘H052a’ in Kai Lindman’s ‘Das wertbestaendige Notgeld von 1923/24’ and catalogue value is 350 euros!

The following 4 notes, illustrated below, are made of velvet and leather and were issued in Bielefeld and Osterwieck. The leather notes, for 1 Goldmark were issued on different coloured leather. I have green, white, brown and red. All have similar fronts and backs as depicted by the 2 notes shown. I have been told that these Osterwieck notes are ‘Spenden- und Erinnerungsscheine’! That is, they are commemerative issues. You can see that the face-value for the Bielefeld pieces, issued on velvet, are ‘1 dollar or 4.2 goldmark’..the exchange rate of the mark to the US dollar back in 1914.

The idea behind linking the German currency to the Dollar was that it would hopefully make it more stable and help the German money to maintain a constant value.

1Goldmark (reverse) on red leather
1Goldmark (front) on white leather
1Goldmark on light-brown leather

This scan nicely shows how the oval pieces were made. There was a card behind the sheet of velvet which was then punched out by machine.

The following table may help you:

  • 1 Goldpfennig = 1/420th of a dollar
  • 4.2 Goldpfennig = 1/100th of a dollar
  • 5 Goldpfennig = 5/420th of a dollar
  • 0.42 Goldmark = 1/10th of a dollar
  • 0.84 Goldmark = 1/5th of a dollar
  • 1.05 Goldmark = 1/4 of a dollar
  • 2.10 Goldmark = 1/2 of a dollar4.20 Goldmark = 1 dollar

Most wertbestaendige pieces have their face values as the dollar part – so as above you would usually get a note for 1/4 of a dollar, equivalent to 1.05 Goldmark. However, Bielefeld issued a fantastically designed silk piece that had a face value of exactly 1 Goldmark ( and not 1.05)! In the basic stoffgeld catalogue (Band 9) it has 2 variants noted – with or without round stampmark. I have 6 variants, no stampmark, black/purple round stampmark on front and back, red round stampmark on front and back and ‘Ungultig’ stampmark. (Mouse over scans to see fronts and backs).

It’s a protest note firstly against the ongoing Occupation of the Ruhr (the proceeds of circulating the note to collectors no doubt intended for the Ruhrhilfe (Aid for the Ruhr) organisation identified bottom right), and secondly against the League of Nations. The poem bottom left reads :

“Self denial is the pleasure to be had 
From things we cannot get.
So live modestly, think cleverly. –
He who needs nothing, has sufficent yet.” 

Around the border in red is a long list of taxes which burden individuals and businesses, namely income Tax, value added tax, business tax, luxury goods tax, tobacco tax, church tax, stamp duty, inheritance tax, police tax, bachelor tax, property tax, buildings tax, alcohol tax, increment value tax, corporation tax, coal tax, dog tax, advertising tax, export tax and import tax.

The rondel on the left of the note shows the figure of Germany, in the form of Deutscher Michel (German Michael) in his traditional sleeping cap, being held to a chair by a French poilu and a British Tommy while France, in the form of a naked Marianne in her traditional revolutionary Phrygian cap, prepares to shave Germany with an ominous-looking cut-throat razor.  The surrounding verse reads : 

“Oh unsullied good fortune is never enjoyed
By one who must pay and knows not how.
France’s devil, full of knavish tricks,Busies itself as a barber.”

(I can’t help but think of The Merchant of Venice, Act IV Scene 1, where Shylock is preparing to take his pound of flesh from Antonio;  but maybe it’s just me reading a lot into the vignette – JA) 

The rondel on the right of the note shows again the figure of Germany in his sleeping cap and again the figure of France’s Marianne in her Phrygian cap, with “England” as a pipe-smoking Tommy.  The fist-shaking Marianne has the French cockerel in support, Tommy a large mastiff.  Miechel (Germany) is being baited up a tree or lamp-post by his foes but is thumbing his nose at them.  The All-Seeing Eye of God looks on in disapproval.  The surrounding verse reads : 

“The League of Nations feels insulted, 
When things turn out differently to the way it expects.
It seems to me that I’m not wanted here,
Thinks Michel, who takes himself off.”

(Germany didn’t join the League of Nations until 1926 and there seems to have been until then, especially in times such as the Occupation of the Ruhr and the plebiscites dismembering Germany to benefit Poland and Denmark, a perhaps not entirely unreasonable view that the League was merely a conspiracy of victors – JA). 

The central oval, at the top, shows a young Deutscher Michel and friends in a game of leapfrog.The verse above reads : 

“One-Two-Three! Time flies by
We try to jump to it to keep pace.
Everyone has the same intention :
Oh, oh; I really must catch up!”

One of the leapers seems to have miscalculated and lands on a greyhound – we slip up in our pursuit of lif?.  Another at the end of the game has fallen flat on his face while a fellow player throws up his hands in shock (a metaphor for someone losing the game against time i.e. dying and being mourned, I shouldn’t wonder).  On the left a noble eagle awaits the players, perhaps an imperial German eagle showing how the Germans have spent their time striving for the ideals of the Reich;  but closer to the game is a vulture in a tree, perhaps representing the enemies of Germany waiting to pick the bones of those who fall by the wayside.   Not sure what the shape on the right is; maybe a forlorn-looking tree, bowed and broken, a symbol of Germany’s recent defeat and current economic collapse? 

The bottom half of the central oval, upside down as it were, shows three French soldiers, bayonets fixed and advancing under the orders of the French officer on the left in his kepi and exaggerated epaulettes, entering the Ruhr with its factory chimneys and coal mine lift gantry.  The local population flees, one man shaking his fist, another man with his possessions in a handcart, a woman leading her sobbing child by the hand, figures carrying away their worldly goods to save them from the depradations of the occupiers.The accompanying verse reads :

“The peoples’ right to self-determination
Brought about by the grace of France.
Oh woe! Oh woe! Goodness falls into wrack and ruin
While the spirit of the Underworld bears away the victory.”

(The League of Nations was big on self-determination in its post-Versailles plebiscites, but one of its main protagonists, France, was less generous with the ideal of self-determination by occupying the Ruhr against its population’s wishes – JA). 

There you have it!  A complex but fascinating note.  (Info supplied by GNCC member John Adams). A BIG thank you to him!!  

The wertbestaendige notgeld issues that had a face value of an actual commodity, are highly desirable and highly collected. (Please see my other website article ‘*commodities’) The note below is for honey!!

A note worth 3 x 1 lb packets of honey!

This very rare set of 4 wertbestaendige notgeld was issued in Gelsenkirchen. These very, very unusual pieces, have had validity to get shoes and hosiery.
The owner of the notgeld, had the right to get shoes in all the Wessling A.G. company shops. These shops were situated in Gelsenkirchen, Bochum, Bernburg, Duisburg.
If the purchaser took the shoes, the notgeldschein was then destroyed. Therefore these notgeldscheine are very, very rare. The terms and conditions are printed on the back of the notgeld pieces:

“Dieser Schein kann nur vom Empfänger gegen Kauf von Schuhen oder Strumpfwaren eingelöst werden.” (“Strumpfwaren” means “hosiery.)
It was the single idea of Wessling AG to issue these notgeld linked to the shoes. Note the low serial numbers.


*GNCC members

*Bielefeld Intro.

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